, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 445-448
Date: 26 Jun 2007

Corals in deep-water: will the unseen hand of ocean acidification destroy cold-water ecosystems?

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Scleractinian cold-water corals, sometimes referred to as deep-water or deep-sea corals, form perhaps the most vulnerable marine ecosystems to the human dependence on burning fossil fuels (Guinotte et al. 2006). While cold-water corals were discovered two centuries ago, their significance in habitat formation is only just emerging with the deployment of manned and unmanned submersibles and the development of advanced acoustics to map their distribution (Hovland et al. 2002; Roberts et al. 2005; Grasmueck et al. 2006; Fig. 1a). They are found throughout the world oceans, usually between approximately 200–1,000+ m depth, and unlike many warm-water corals do not contain photosynthetic symbiotic algae (Freiwald 2002 and see papers within Freiwald and Roberts 2005). They are long-lived (several 100 s of years old), form reef frameworks that persist for millennia and are thought to experience relatively little environmental variability (reviewed by Roberts et al. 2006). Reef-like structures ...

Communicated by Editor in Chief B.E. Brown.